It’s Friday, meaning that you’ll find my weekly drama column in this morning’s Wall Street Journal. Today it’s a triple-header–an import, a revival, and a new play.
First up is Shockheaded Peter, in which I took extreme delight:
An actor who looks not unlike a freshly exhumed corpse strolls onto the stage of what looks very much like a blown-up toy theater. He fixes a fishy-eyed stare upon the hushed audience…and stands there. And stands there. Finally, to the sound of nervous titters, he speaks. “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls,” he intones in a voice of ripest ham, “I am the grrreatest actor that has ever existed!” Then he leaves.
Welcome to “Shockheaded Peter,” now playing at the Little Shubert for what I hope will be at least a year. This homicidally hilarious British import is a musical version of the “Struwwelpeter” stories of Heinrich Hoffman, the 19th-century German author famous for his cautionary tales of ill-behaved tots who get what they deserve, and then some. (Guess what happened to little Conrad when he kept on sucking his thumbs after Mommy told him to stop?) It is, in theory, a children’s show, though the only child I can readily imagine appreciating “Shockheaded Peter” to the fullest would be Wednesday Addams….
Next up is the Irish Repertory Theatre’s splendid production of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame:
If you were bothered by the twitchy excesses of the Worth Street Theater Company’s “Happy Days,” rest assured that “Endgame” is played straight down the middle. You couldn’t ask for a stronger cast (Alvin Epstein, amazingly enough, appeared in the American premieres of “Endgame” and “Waiting for Godot”). Nor do I see how Charlotte Moore’s simple, self-effacing staging could possibly be improved. To see it in a house as intimate as the Irish Rep is more than a pleasure–it’s a privilege….
Last is On the Mountain, about which I had substantial but not necessarily fatal reservations:
The first 15 minutes of Christopher Shinn’s “On the Mountain,” now playing through March 13 at Playwrights Horizons, contain references to AA, Ashton Kutcher, iPods, Radiohead, Tori Amos, group therapy, cell phones and Prozac. At the mention of the last of these, I snuck a peek at my watch, turned to my companion for the evening and whispered, “This isn’t a play, it’s a magazine article.”
Fortunately, I was wrong. “On the Mountain” really is a play, albeit one of a very particular kind: It’s a Gen-X kitchen-sink drama, right down to the kitchen sink….
No link. To read the whole thing (of which there’s much more), get thee to a newsstand, or go here and proceed as instructed.